Blue Eyes in a Black World: Aspects of Postcolonialism in Jamaica
In his 1987, internationally acclaimed novel, The Lunatic, Jamaican author Anthony C. Winkler, risibly examines the island's taboos. Its ribald atmosphere is infused with assertive social satire, scrutinizing such topics as education and corruptness, colonialism and social injustice, poverty and wealth, race and religion. The story evolves around the protagonists Aloysius, the village madman, and the German tourist, Inga Schmidt. These two unlikely people meet and, however tenuous, bond friendship; one Jamaican, the other German, one black, the other white, one unlettered, the other university educated, one poor, the other rich, one slave, the other master, one a pacifist, the other an agitator, but both in their own way mad. As a tourist, Inga is blindsided by even the most ordinary, which seems colorful, exciting, and exotic, simply because it is new. Initially, her writing, documenting, and photographing do not aid her to see beyond the coruscation of her surroundings, which explains why Inga, at first, does not take notice of the Island's rampant pauperism. Inga shares with most tourists who come to Jamaica the same exaltation about the Island of the sea and sun. As an educated and cultivated German, Inga is well informed, her knowledge gleaned from the multitude of guidebooks available. Yet, she knows very little about the land and its people. However, once her money is spent, she moves into Aloysius' ramshackle dwelling in the bush, from which she can observe the magnificent house of the landowner on the hill above. Living now in poverty herself, she is suddenly struck by the endemic poverty and by the obscene and gaping difference between the destitute and the conspicuously rich. She now experiences the injustice the islanders have endured over decades. As the novel progresses, the reader finds out that Inga Schmidt is actually a Red Brigade terrorist on the run from the law. To improve her own living conditions she is willing to use terrorist tactics and employs Aloysius and others to execute her plan to rob the landowner's house. The outcome of this undertaking has disastrous consequences. In short, I will show how the travails of this relationship between Aloysius and Inga, and the inevitable collision of these two very different cultures become the portrayers of the biting social criticism and satire at the core of the novel.
Keywords: Blue Eyes in a Black World, Aspects of Postcolonialism in Jamaica
Dr Kevin Kennedy
Associate professor of German, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Appalachian State University